A worker at the Tayto factory has described morale as “very low” following yesterday (Thursday’s) news that up to 80 jobs could be at risk at the Tandragee site.
The machine operator said that he was only made aware of the news late yesterday in a text from a shop steward - and found out the rest from Facebook.
He said morale was already low because of a dispute over the pay and the National Living Wage.
He added, “There is no communication either. Management don’t tell us anything. The workforce in Tandragee work hard. We have put Tayto on the map but now it seems that England is dictating to us.
“I have a mortgage to pay but there are fellas worse off than me and I really feel for them.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Paul Berry, who said he has been kept up to date with the current situation, has urged the Unite union to work constructively with Tayto management.
He said, “The Tayto Group is a very successful company and last year they had a very good turnover but sadly this year it is more challenging and every company has to adopt to such circumstances.
“The fact is clear that production costs are much higher than the other sites in England and it is imperative that the NI Executive wake up to this stark warning and work with such companies to try and alleviate their pressures.
“The money that Tayto and other large companies are paying out monthly on rates, energy costs and general production costs are incredible and the Executive must respond to this and act.”
Cll Berry added, “My concerns are also for the workers and I can assure them that I will continue to keep in contact with the company to help in any way I can.”
In a statement, Tayto said they have “no intention” of ceasing production at the Tandragee site, explaining that The Hutchinson family and Tayto Group management are based there. “We are extremely proud to be part of a successful local company and of the Northern Ireland heritage of the Tayto brand,” they said.
However, they pointed out that production costs in Tandragee are considerably higher than at any of its other sites, which are in England. “It could be that in the future we will be forced to restrict production here to what is sold in Northern Ireland in order to ensure the continued success of the company and to make best use of our resources, in particular, the capacity we currently have in the more-economical GB plants,” the statement added.
Unite have said they will be balloting members for strike action and that any strike action “will cause significant disruption not just to the production of Tayto crisps but also own-brand products for the multiples”,
Tayto are totally owned by the Hutchinson family and, as well as the Tandragee site, have four factories in England.